Monday, August 24, 2009

John Piper, Lutherans, and a Tornado

I read an intersting ABP article today on a recent a mini-controversy over comments John Piper made on his blog regarding a tornado that touched down in Minneapolis while the ELCA was voting to loosen its views on homosexual practice for their clergy. Piper ventured "an interpretation of this Providence" that concluded, "The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to all of us: Turn from the approval of sin." Minneapolis open theist and Piper nemesis Greg Boyd offered a critique you can read here.
Indeed, the Puritans also offered similar interpretations of God's intervention in providential occurences. The comments on the articles and blogs include quite a few "how dare you" comments from the liberal perspective. My problem with Piper is not with the notion of a God who providentially intervenes to chasten but in the interpretation of experimental phenomena as God's revelation rather than resting on the sufficiency of Scripture. The condemnation of the ELCA came not through the tornado (which is open to varying interpretations) but has always been there in Romans 1.


Travis Hilton said...

Brother Jeff,

Thanks for what you have shared here. I have to say that after reading what John Piper wrote, its hard to deny the providence in this happening down the street from his church along with the timing of the Luthern meeting. I don't know how else he could have said it if he was was going to say anything at all. It would be hard not to mention this white elephant in the room (the tornado) and speak solely of the meeting going underneath (the tornado).

After reading the final two points I think he leaves it open that all destructive phenomena is a warning to the sinner (along with what Romans would say on the subject.) That's my take for what its worth.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Travis Hilton. Piper does quite the opposite for which you charge him. He does not interpret this experience as revelation, but takes the experience to the Scriptures and uses God's Word to make meaning out of what appears to the undiscerning as coincidence and thus they would be denying God's Providence and Sovereignity. We need godly men to take us to the Word to understand experiences like these.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Granted that Piper's statment is much more theologically sophisticated and nuanced than, say, Jerry Falwell's pronouncement that 9/11 was God's judgment on America for homosexuality or Pat Robertson's that Katrina was God's judgement on sin in New Orleans, it is similar. My query is whether it reflects Piper's non-cessationism and some of the attendant risks to making such evaluations of experiences from a human perspective.

I sense a new Piper catch-phrase: "God is most glorified in us, when tornadoes are most satisfied in attacking sin."

Smiles, JTR

Travis Hilton said...

Or, how about "Don't waste your tornado"?

Smiles, TBH